Sat. June 20, 2020 – another week gone

Slightly cooler, humid, might be some rain.

Yesterday we got rain almost everywhere I wasn’t.    I could see the cell moving across the north side of town as I drove around, but I never had any significant rain hit the truck.  It did rain here at the house according to my  wife,  so I won’t have to water the gardens.  Streets were dry by the time I got home though.

Juneteenth was a nothing burger.  I’ve lived here since ’03 and never was aware of any particular celebration even though it’s supposed to be a Houston thing.  I certainly never heard anything about it in all the years I’ve lived elsewhere.  The scanner had the cops following and keeping an eye on various groups throughout the day, but I didn’t hear about any violence.  I guess it could have gone a different way, and it did bring home the value of the scanner for at least a heads up, since I was completely unaware until I heard the first discussion about the gathering crowd.  I chose a different route for my errand and avoided any potential threats.

Today I’ve got a couple more things to pick up, and then I’m battening down the hatches again.   Too many stories of people who just HAD to go out and break the distancing rules, who are now getting sick.   I don’t feel super anyway, so I’m not risking it.  YMMV.  I am ADVOCATING that you all continue to isolate as much as possible.  I could be wrong and often am, but the downside risk is huge for this one.

Kids are at swim team practice with the wife this morning, and then (possibly) staying for some free swim.  I’m not the boss of her and I know she’ll TRY  to stay separated.  It will also let her take the tenor of the (female half of the) tribes.  Perhaps she’ll get home with renewed commitment to isolating.

It could happen.

Dinner was stewed chicken thighs, in the slow cooker with a sauce packet and veg.  I didn’t have what I usually put in, so I went with onion, turnip, beets, carrots, and apple.  It tasted great.  Just a bit of extra sweet to go with the savory of the spice packet.  Dessert was a cupcake.  Daughter baked cupcakes for our friends with covid, and another family we haven’t seen in  a while.  They dropped them off as a drive by act of kindness.

Some of you know from yesterday’s comments that Barbara is sick in the hospital, which is why she hasn’t posted this week.  Please see my post over at her site for what details we have.  I’ll be passing along whatever she or her sister Frances would like me to.  Please keep  her and those who love her in your prayers.

The one scenario/ contingency I can’t remember Bob ever discussing planning for was his absence.  Give it some consideration in your own situation and planning.

Keep planning, and stacking.

 

nick

 

Fri. June 19, 2020 – just another day

And a hot one at that.  Humid too, unless I miss my guess.

Yesterday was hot and humid.

I got some work done in the garage, and some work done going through the bins of inventory getting ready to take a bunch to auction.  My previous load sold.  Some surprises, some disappointments.  However, the stuff is gone… and money is coming.

We have swim team today, with time trials.  I’m even more concerned about our attending, as a family in our circle has all tested positive and are isolating at home.  The kids’ music teacher, her husband, and their kids are all sick.  She had gone back to work, and the kids were in daycare, so who knows what the path was.  If they know, they aren’t saying.  It highlights what I’ve been saying though.  It’s still out there.  People are still getting sick.  The reopening is happening because we ‘flattened the curve’ and there is capacity to deal with new cases.  And anywhere people are getting together, anywhere they kept working, they are continuing to get sick.

Speaking of continuing, what can’t forever, won’t.  That includes this nation as we know it.  Think about what has already changed in the last 20 years.  Or 40 years.  Huge swaths of public life are completely changed.   They will continue to change.  We aren’t going back to ‘normal’.  Start working on where you want to be and what you’ll do to get there.

Dinner was Frito Pie.   If you don’t live in the south, that’s when you dump chili on Frito brand corn chips.  Add some chopped onion, and shredded cheese if you want to.  Traditionally served in the opened bags of Fritos and eaten from the bag, I made it in bowls this time.   I’ve done it in the bag, and I’ve done it as a casserole too.   Yum.  Quick and easy too.

Keep working on getting ready for what comes next.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

Thur. June 18, 2020 – lying liars that lie

Hot and humid, although with the way my joints feel, we’re due for a change in the weather.

Yesterday was hot (104F in the sun in my driveway) but fairly comfortable if you just sat in the shade with the breeze.  Not so comfortable if you were working outdoors.

At swim practice I was chatting with a friend, one of the other dads, and the subject of security and sketchy neighbors came up.  I gave him some advice on cameras and we talked about his new neighbors.  Like mine, several unrelated or partially related groups living in the same house, making noise, disrupting the neighborhood.  Like mine, also finding that intimidation doesn’t work, and the cops do come when we call for ‘nuisance’ complaints.  And yes, we both plan to monitor and if necessary  harass the renters until they decide to leave.  Time for them to conform to and accommodate OUR cultural norms.

Other places, like Atlanta and Seattle, are going to get a lesson in what happens when you abandon the rule of law.  The good citizens will either leave, or they will take action.

I mentioned to my wife that I thought we’d have Republic of Texas passports within ten years.  She laughed and thought I was kidding.  I’m not.  I’ll even go so far as to say +5, -3 years as bounds.  Ten years is a long time.  Literally anything can happen.  We won’t be the only breakaway either.

We’re not going back to ‘normal’ either.

Dinner was leftovers.  Almost cleared the fridge.

Gotta make room for more.  More stuff, more skills, more connections.  If you don’t recognize your City Councilperson/Alderman/etc and Mayor on sight, and know your local state and federal Representatives by name, you need to do some homework.  Who is your Sheriff?  Who is your Chief of Police?  Do you have an opinion about their politics and competence in their jobs?  Do you know your State DA?  What about Attorney General?  All politics is local, so start there.  Vote in the mid term and off year elections.  Talk to someone and find out which Judges to vote for or against.  If you have kids, start paying attention to your school board.  These are the politicians that will have the most impact on your life, and over whom you have the most control.  Use it.

And keep stacking, this is far from over.

nick

Wed. June 17, 2020 – work work work, mess around, work, rest

Hot and humid again.  Go figure.

Yesterday was both, although it seemed pretty nice in the shade, when the wind blew.

I did my auction pickups.  Got a couple things for the pool.  Got a couple items for ebay.  Got a very specialized tool, that should make moving a safe much easier and less likely to crack flooring.  At some point, I’ll need that and it was super cheap.  I like to buy stuff before I have the need, so that it’s ready to go when I finally do need it.  That’s sorta the nature of prepping and it applies across my life.

I made some adjustments to settings in my garage fridge and it’s now reading 37F in the back.  If that holds up, I’ll be moving stuff to it again.  Add a quart of spoiled cream to the total losses during this exercise…

Dinner was instigated and (mostly) executed by daughter one.  Pasta with home made alfredo sauce, oven roasted seasoned potatoes, and grilled steak (my contribution.)  My wife did provide guidance but oldest mostly worked from a cookbook she got for her birthday.  Everything came out of the pantry or freezer.  It was very tasty.


Since I was out running around most of the afternoon, I didn’t get much time in front of the computer, so I’m a bit behind the news.  Still no official response in Seattle.   REALLY biased reporting of the defensive gun use in New Mexico.  Lots of people who thought the lifting of restrictions meant the threat of illness was gone, and now they’re sick.   All good reasons to practice rule number one, Avoid Crowds.

And keep stacking.

 

nick

Tues. June 16, 2020 – halfway through the month, already

Hot and humid.  Of course.

Yesterday was hot and humid too, but did get a bit cooler later in the day.   Cool enough that I started working on a string trimmer that wouldn’t start.  Standing in the garage with no breeze it was stifling, and sweat was dripping off my nose.   Outside was better.

Did half my pickups.  Got some tactical stuff, some stuff for the house and kids too.   Have more to do today.  But first, swim team practice.

For now, we’re still going.   Seeing the other kids and spending time at the pool is just too powerful a draw for my wife to say no, and I’m reluctant too.  I did wear my mask all day today and gloves when I had to go in and handle stuff.

Speaking of ‘handling’ stuff, wtf is up with all the busybodies in the news?  Mind your own business.   That these people can’t seem to suggests that the overall stress levels out there are WAY high.  And wtf is up with firing the busybody’s boyfriend?  That is going way too far.  What is going to happen when people have real grievances?

It’s just more fuel on the fire and another data point for my assertion that things will get worse.

And about ‘getting worse’… OMG the trash stinks.  I could smell it 30 ft away.  Half a cup of bleach and a bit of water after to spread the bleach around helped tremendously.  The neighbors are gonna call the cops on us if it gets worse.

Today should be another day full, where I really don’t make any progress on my lists.  Oh well, we’ll try anyway.

In the meantime, keep stacking.

 

n

Mon. June 15, 2020 – just another manic Monday

Hot and humid.  We’re on the edge of a system so we could get rain or not.

Yesterday was certainly hot.  I was very uncomfortable, even with a hat and my evap cooler vest.

I did mostly stuff around the house.  Cut the grass, cleaned the pond filter, watered the gardens.  Weeded.

Citrus is still all growing.  Cabbages are doing well.  I’ve got some cilantro coming in.  Mint is going nuts.    Grapevine is taking over the whole trellis.  Harvested more peppers and then I traded some sweet peppers for some tomatoes with one of the other swim team families.  MEATSPACE!!  We’ve got the Thunderdome, we need a Bartertown too.  Practice.  The family also raises chickens and sells eggs, and they live near us.  Probably good folks to know if things get thin.

It looks like all my potatoes have died.  I’ve got one plant left in one ‘tower’.   No idea what went wrong, just one by one the plants died.  Acorn squash and watermelon are growing, well protected by the wire mesh.  Corn stalks are getting taller.

My trash smells like death.  10 pounds of raw chicken and two gallons of milk.  100F heat.  OMG.  I dumped about a cup of bleach on the contents today and that helped.    Holy hell what a stench, and the flies are THICK.  The bleach did help quite a bit, but we’ve still got 4 days until trash pickup.  I’m really glad we’ve got trash pickup…

I’m really glad we still have civilization, and I don’t understand the people who want to tear it down.  I think they just don’t have any experience, knowledge, or imagination.   I do.

I’ll try to keep my personal world at a first world level as long as I can, no matter what else is going on.  Unfortunately, parts of this country and parts of too many cities have already fallen to third world levels.  It’s tempting to blame the third worlders that live there, but they came once it got cheap enough.  Of course they didn’t raise it up after they got there, either.

Today, I’m doing auction pickups.  I was feeling better about the world and our situation, so I started back into my old life.  Over the last week or so, it’s becoming clear that cases are rising, and the economic issues continue.  I’m switching back to hunker down/isolation mode.  I’m also going to be continuing to increase my stocks, rather than running down what I have.  I don’t see  things getting better for a long time. Trying to save money will have to take a back seat to resupplying.  I don’t feel comfortable running down stocks, and hoping to replace them more cheaply later.  I am still applying my number one rule, that prepping can’t negatively or irrevocably change our lives, ie. we’re not selling everything and moving to Idaho and buying a bunker.  I’m not going to run up the credit cards buying pallets of Mountain House.

We will continue to look for opportunities during this time.  There are always opportunities to prosper, but you need the resources available and the willingness and ability to act.  You also need to recognize the opportunity.  That’s the hard part.

So, look for opportunities to meet helpful people.  Work on your skills and knowledge so YOU can be a helpful person.  Keep your eyes and mind open to opportunities. And keep stacking.

nick

Sun. June 14, 2020 – stuff to do gets in the way of doing stuff

Hot and humid, cooler in the shade.  And I’ve really got to figure out why my weather station isn’t working.  I changed the batteries for fresh, but I guess I got one in backwards or something.

Yesterday was about as nice weather-wise as Houston gets in the summer.  Blue sky, cooling breeze and not stifling.  Still hot as blazes in the sun though.  We’re supposed to have a couple more days without rain, which will be nice.

I hope I have the issues with my garage fridge sorted, but it’s not actually getting cold as quickly as I’d hoped.  The freezer is still solid, but the fridge is only 45F.  I fit all the important stuff into the kitchen fridge but it’s packed solid now.  I need the garage fridge to be working.  I’ll check it again, and if there isn’t any change I’ll try to figure out why.

Instacart came promptly with my resupply drop.  Only a couple of things went out of stock between my starting to order and when he started picking.  Soda for the kids and cheap bacon showed in stock, but weren’t.  Turkey legs got substituted with turkey thighs.   The thighs aren’t  as much fun to eat, but the guy made a good choice.  If you’re as picky about shopping as I am, instacart isn’t a great choice, but given the times, I’m being more flexible.  There are definite limits to what’s available and I don’t know if they are service related or if the items are truly not in the store.  If they’re not in the store, then disruptions in supply chain are more widespread than they look.   There are a lot of items that Instacart doesn’t even list as available.  If I had the time and inclination, I could compare to the HEB app, or walk the store myself, and I might just so you don’t have to…

Speaking of food, we are eligible for the P-EBT summer school lunch card.  It would be about $700 bucks between the two kids.  It’s based on your school, not your particular family need.  My wife does not want to get it.  She feels that we don’t need it and shouldn’t use it.   I’m reluctant for the same reason, but am practically considering that $700 buys a lot of food.  Food that might be in short supply later in the year.  It raises a moral question for me, as I don’t believe that giving everyone the money is a good thing or a proper use of tax dollars.  On the other hand, they are giving the money out no matter what I think, and it would be nice to get some of our tax money back.  I don’t think I’ll be working too hard to convince her we should apply.

Looking at the shelves and the pantry, it hardly looks like we’ve even dented the stacks.  We’ve been able to resupply and eat most of the stuff we would normally eat anyway.  On sale meat is the exception to that.  There was only so much freezer space, and we went into this full up.  We are depleting my stores of frozen meat.  Costco and HEB both had it, but the prices were high.  The real question is, are the high prices the new normal, and in 6 months I’ll wish I bought every scrap I could at that price, or will prices come back down?  Anyone have anything more than a gut feeling?  I’ve been wrong about the direction of the price for food on just about every previous occasion.  Crude oil too, for that matter.

Outside of stocking the freezer, I’ve got so many projects that it’s starting to get fractal.  I need to seriously get some done to make way for the others.  I’m working on that today.

Dinner last night was a Costco pre-cooked meal, hawaiian chicken with pineapple specifically.  5 minute rice as a side, using up the last of my minute rice.  I was stocking minute rice as part of my ‘intermediate’ preps on the theory that it takes a lot less energy and time to prepare, and energy might be scarce in a post-disaster situation.  It was worth the small cost premium to save the coleman fuel required to cook rice for 30 minutes.  It’s still convenient, but I have so much regular rice that I really need to work on using that.  For quick rice, I have pouches for the microwave.

Take a good look at your pantry.  No one ever said, I have too much food, or too much money, or too much ammo when times get tough.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

 

 

Sat. June 13, 2020 -Friday the 13th falls on a Saturday this month

Warm moving to hot, decent moving to ‘too humid to breathe’.

Yesterday was a bit cooler than average and a bit drier too.  The shade with a breeze was quite comfortable.

Swim team eats up my mornings.  Falling asleep at my desk after lunch ate my afternoon.  I got very little done besides two loads of laundry and making dinner.

Dinner was lamb roast with potatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, and rosemary in the dish.  A shelf stable loaf of sourdough went in the oven too, since it was on…  I cooked the whole 4 pound roast and was grateful that it hadn’t spoiled with my refrigerator issue.  Chicken and milk did spoil, and I figured it out after the garbage pickup, so my trash is going to be horrific this week…

My non-prepping hobby club will be meeting today.  Normally we meet in a conference room or break room at one of the member’s manufacturing facility.  It’s pretty cramped.  Today the meeting will be in the big community room of a local church.  I’ve thought long and hard about it, and I’ve decided not to go.  I miss the guys and have stuff for show and tell, but I’ve been coughing for 3 days, and even if there is more room and a high ceiling, it’s still an enclosed space.  If I’m avoiding the grocery store, I can’t justify attending my club meeting.  Especially with cases trending up in town and almost every other member being older than me to boot.

I’m going to do my auction pickups and then start pulling back on that again.  I need to narrow my focus back down.  I’d hoped that I was wrong about  wuflu part 2, but it doesn’t look that way.  On top of that, people are working pretty hard at getting CivilWarII started.  More like Civil War, the low intensity conflict version ™ probably, but still gonna suck.

I’ve seen more references to Qanon and the term ‘boogaloo’*  in the press in the last week than, well, ever.  Internet talk is spilling over into Real Life.  From their point of view, you have to familiarize people with the ideas before you can use those ideas to condemn individuals and groups.  That’s beginning.  Divemedic posted some material for thought, namely the US policy analysis and instruction books for insurgency.  He’s raised some convincing points about where we are along that path.   I’ll link in comments because he’s also beginning to sterilize his online presence and I generally try to avoid external links in the post of the day, so they don’t break later.

Things will likely get worse before better.  Plan for it.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

 

*not the racial slur, the same idea as “spicy time” or “when things get ‘sporty'”.

 

Fri. June 12, 2020 – another week under restrictions, but apparently not enough

Hot and humid, although it should be less so than the rest of the week.

Yesterday was a bit cooler and drier than the earlier part of the week.  It was still 90F in the shade in the late afternoon, because it’s summer in Houston after all.  It was practically chilly getting in the pool after dinner.

Unfortunately it looks like Houston is about to validate a whole lot of stuff regarding wuflu.

Houston “On The Precipice Of Disaster” As Officials Weigh Reimposing Stay At Home Order Amid Spike In Cases

I’ve been saying ‘wait and see’ and ‘let the other guy see if the flame is still hot’ and it looks like it is.   I’ll give it a little bit more time to develop further, but it seems to be right on schedule and just as predicted.   That isn’t good, as it means we’ll be seeing a bunch more cases and all over the place as the Memorial Day celebrants and then the protesters get sick, right on schedule.

It’s not going to make much difference in my life or plans, but it’s gonna be a kick in the teeth for some people.  I’m in this for the long haul.  I hope you all are too.

With that in mind, I was trying to buy another freezer today in an auction.  I stopped bidding at 1.5x the freezer’s original price.  Still half of new CURRENT price on amazon, but jeez.  It wasn’t a good fit for the space I have, or as big as I wanted.  There will be more as estates keep settling.  I could just order one, and wait for fall delivery, but I want to start stocking it.

Speaking of coolers, my garage fridge wasn’t cold when I went out there last night.  The freezer was still frozen, but the air passages feeding cold to the fridge compartment were blocked with ice.   I might have lost 20 pounds of chicken and 10 pounds of lamb.    The milk is cheap and I can get more, and the eggs will be fine.  All the cheese will be ok.  Losing the meat would suck.  I’ll be looking closely at that today, and possibly just cooking it.  It wasn’t warm, and the tubes of biscuits hadn’t exploded, but it’s been warmer than 36F for at least a couple of days.  I brought the meat into the house, and unblocked the passages.  With as hot and humid as it’s been, I should have been paying more attention.  It’s a known issue for me with this fridge, but I forgot.  Little things, ignored, can have bigger consequences.  Fortunately, we’re not on the ragged edge at the moment.

I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do today, after swim team.  Swim team is looking like a bad idea in light of the rise in cases.  I guess we’ll make a decision soon.

Yesterday number one daughter used cake mix, frosting mix, and other stuff from the preps and pantry to bake cupcakes for her friend’s birthday.  Hooray baking club.  She did it all herself, with me in the kitchen, but not helping.  She even did a pastry bag with a decorator tip to apply the frosting.  #proudpapa !  They looked great, like store bought, and tasted delicious.

Dinner was grilled lamb chops, leftover french fries, and broccoli- two stems from the garden and half a head from the store.   The garden broccoli tasted and looked good, but there wasn’t much.  I cut it off the plants and expect they’ll grow more, like the last time I harvested.

It’s pretty clear to me that bad times are here, and more are coming.

Now more than ever, don’t let your guard down.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

 

 

Thur. June 11, 2020 – kids are getting a little frayed…

Less hot, but still hot.  Humid too, most likely.

Yesterday was hot again, although there was wind to provide some cooling.  It wasn’t HOT HOT HOT, but in the sun my skin was pulling tight.  Even very light work at dusk broke a sweat.

All I really did was move all the bikes out into the driveway (a major goal) and spray the grapevines for caterpillars again.   I’m still not done in the driveway, but I have made real progress.  There is a 10ft x 12 ft area on the back patio that is clear of bikes.  That’s major.

I tested my ‘new to me’ benchtop power supply and it’s working.  I need to find a way to fit it into the ‘stack o gear’  on my bench now.  It’s not small or light.  It’s 3RU tall, 18 inches deep and wide, and weighs about 40 pounds or more.  It’s a beast.  At 10% of ebay pricing, I couldn’t say no, especially since I’ve been looking for a DC power supply for a year or more.

I chipped away at my office cleanup a bit too.  I’ve got too many projects started and need to put the effort into finishing a couple.   80/20 or 90/10 rule applies, I got most of the result in the first bit of effort, and now I am having trouble finishing.  And the week is almost gone.

The world continues to careen around like a drunk in a carnival house of mirrors.  Worse, the crazy people insist that we acknowledge and celebrate their insanity.   It’s going to end in violence.  Lots of violence.

I’m afraid we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Dinner was carryout from our favorite Greek place.  My wife was doing curbside pickup at Home Depot for some pool supplies, and some other stuff, and what’s one more curbside pickup at that point?  Delicious. But even I’m breaking down.  Just in time for the second wave…

Kids are tired of not normal.  They’d like to spend time with friends, going out, doing things.  Last summer they were in camps most weeks, doing nature camp, science camp, art camp, and keep these kids out of my hair camp.  They had a short but very busy swim team season.  This year they’re playing some online game with the school friends they haven’t seen in 3 months.  They’ve been real troupers, but they’re starting to show signs of stress too.

So I get it.  EVERYONE wants out of the house and a return to normal.  It just isn’t a good idea, and ‘normal’ isn’t coming back anytime soon.  Even leaving aside the wuflu, the job loss, the rioting, the massive disruption to the economy are all upsetting factors, and you CAN’T ignore the wuflu, because the rest of the world is getting it.  That’s gonna leave a mark on a lot of countries that either sell us stuff or buy our stuff.  Some of those countries are going to experience a change in leadership.  Ours might.  In some cases that will help, in others, the crazy will be in charge and the people will suffer.  None of this is getting us back to ‘normal’.

Flexibility and acceptance and then action are going to be words that help us get through this and on to whatever becomes ‘normal’.  I’d like that to be something other than a decade of burning cities and the collapse of western civilization.

Stacks will help no matter what, so keep stacking.  And since they can’t take your knowledge and skill, keep leveling those up too.

 

nick